All entries for October 2007

October 20, 2007

Bird's Eye View

The thing I’ve come to notice about men who keep what I suppose come under the category of trained birds- although I consider myself to be placed well above the level of trifling curiosity that that implies- is that, in almost every case, they fail to grasp the concept as fully as they perhaps should. My own fool- a doddering old man who stands as a frightening example of what can only be put down to inbreeding between cousins- seems perfectly happy to twitter on about this and that to me as he rambles about his study, once in a while feeding me a morsel of his food and grinning inanely as he does so, as though my need to eat is a strange and novel concept. Personally, I’m of the opinion he’d be much more suited to a parrot than a raven as highly trained as myself (not, no matter what the sparrows who perch on the ledge in the morning twitter to themselves, a crow with delusions of grandeur). Parrots are stupid birds and natural show-offs, and as such have a lot in common with the tufted buffoon with whom I’m forced to spend my days.

The buffoon had fallen asleep in his study again. The candles on the walls were still aglow and, somewhat more importantly to me, so was the candle on his desk, not inches away from where he had chosen to rest his head. This, in turn, was startlingly close to one of the family tapestries, a poorly-woven but I’m sure especially flammable stretch of material, the other end of which finished up not far at all from my perch. The scenario I kept playing out in my mind, in which I ended up a damn sight warmer than I would have liked as a result of a certain someone’s inability to hold his drink, did very little for my disposition towards him. I wish I could say that it was a rare occurrence, but alas not; one would be hard pressed to find an evening, especially one immediately following a court banquet, when the silly old fart didn’t collapse into his chair as a result of a few too many glasses of vintage port. It was rarer still that he’d manage to do it without damn near setting fire to the place. As of yet, though, luck (and occasionally a servant who could get the door open and snuff the wick before he roused himself; not a particularly difficult task, if you were aware of the candle in the first place) had seen to it that the royal ermines remained unscorched, not to mention what was left of the royal follicles.

Tonight, though, it was a sharp rapping on the door that broke into his evening nap. I watched him jerk himself awake in a most unregal manner, causing the dress crown he’d been wearing and that had slipped over his eyes as he slept to crash to the floor and roll equally unceremoniously into the coal store. The candle rocked in its holder, and- despite looking still half-dazed with sleep, perhaps even more so than usual- he managed to a hand on the base to steady it, which caused me no end of relief. With their usual creak, the hinges of the study door opened, even though the old man hadn’t indicated for his visitor to enter. Before too long, the boy whose timely knocking had prevented me from ending up in a similar state to the banquet’s roast goose slid his head around the door nervously; his body followed shortly afterward, and in very much a similar fashion. The old man lifted his attention from the candle for a moment, which had started to spill its wax in a now-setting stream onto the desk, and looked at the interloper.

October 11, 2007


Sarah sits cross-legged on what had been, until half an hour ago, our bed. Shared, and therefore neutral territory- an interpersonal Switzerland that refused steadfastly to be dragged into any conflict larger than an argument about whose turn it was to make coffee in the morning. There have been other such conflicts- more than there should have been, certainly- but they tended to be consigned exclusively to the living room, where we’d sit on a two-person loveseat with three spaces between us and wait for hours for the other party to give in and apologise. ‘So it’s serious, then?’ she asks.

How am I supposed to answer that? Either it’s yes, it’s serious, I don’t want to be with you anymore, or it’s no, it’s not serious, I care so little about you that I’m willing to throw it all away on some stupid fling. The truth of the matter is that it’s neither, or at the very least a little of both and nowhere near as polarised as she’s trying to make out, but we’re way past the point where the truth is going to make any sort of difference to the outcome of the evening. Whatever happens now, there will be shouting and screaming and in all likelihood the slamming of doors and the throwing of anything that she can lay her hands on. At the moment, though, she seems relatively calm and rational. She isn’t crying, which is good, but she also hasn’t started swearing yet, which leads me to think that her present composure is going to end up being a very small tip on a very large, very loud iceberg.

‘Well?’ she says, her inflection marking that little word out as a question in its own right. She’s prompting me as though I hadn’t heard her, which we both know is impossible. The neighbours could have heard a pin drop after she asked the first time, so it’s pretty obvious that what she’s doing is nothing more than attempting to psych me out.

‘You know I’m not going to answer that,’ I say eventually, which is an awful response but the best I can manage given the situation. She doesn’t respond, and we just sit for a couple of minutes. Outwardly, I hope I look concerned for her wellbeing, even if I can’t bring myself to look remorseful; inwardly, I’m willing to do anything to get out of this stalemate even if I have to put up with a few tears to get things moving again. If we play this game to a draw, all we’re going to do is have a rematch in a few days’ time. ‘So…’ I say to break the silence.

It doesn’t work quite as well as I’d hoped. ‘So?’ she asks. ‘Is that it? Is that all I’m getting?’

‘What else is there to say?’ I reply, and for the first time in this little exchange I find myself speaking my mind, the angel on my right and the devil on my left singing a perfect two part harmony.

‘Sorry?’ It’s a suggestion, not an apology or a request for repetition. ‘What about sorry?’ she clarifies almost immediately afterwards, just in case.

‘Would it make a difference?’ I ask. Her lip is starting to tremble, but that’s just as likely to be as a result of her holding back her anger as it is through holding back tears.

‘That depends,’ she says. ‘Are you sorry?’

I think it over. ‘No,’ I say eventually. She keeps staring at me, daring me to add to it. ‘If I was sorry, though- truly, deeply sorry- would it matter?’

It’s another one of those questions, but this time it’s mine and not hers, and I’m more than willing to let her sweat it out for as long as she needs to. I know the answer, though, and more importantly I know she knows it too, well before she speaks.

‘No,’ she says quietly, and that’s all.

October 2007

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